On Friday, April 24, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane announced a waiver for end-of-year testing and evaluations for homeschoolers in a VDOE press release and in Superintendent’s Memo #105-20.
The memo to all local school superintendents states:
Parents electing to provide home instruction during the 2019-2020 school year shall be relieved of the requirement to provide evidence of student progress to the local school division superintendent (§22.1-254.1).
By law, new legislation cannot be introduced during the reconvened budget session. The solution for COVID-19 emergency measures was for the governor to add non-budgetary amendments to the budget—the only vehicle for legislative change after the 2020 session.
HEAV expects the emergency measure to be signed
because Governor Northam introduced the amendment himself, and the General Assembly agreed to his amendment during the April 22 reconvened session.
The amendment includes the following language in part (page 134, after line 21):
… the Superintendent of Public Instruction may grant temporary flexibility or issue waivers of certain deadlines and requirements that cannot be met due to the state of emergency or school closures resulting from Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
After reviewing the amendment and memo, HEAV contacted Virginia Department of Education Policy Director Rebecca Askew to confirm the information. Ms. Askew clarified that two things must occur before the testing requirement can be waived:
- The governor must sign the budget bill.
- The secretary of education must approve Dr. Lane’s request to waive homeschool testing.
WHEN WILL THESE EVENTS TAKE PLACE?
The governor has 30 days after the reconvened session in which to sign legislation, including the budget bill. The budget is typically implemented on July 1 in even-numbered years; however, emergency authority can be carried out at any time.
We are aware some parents have received messages from school divisions stating students must still test by August 1 — and we understand this is confusing. We encourage you to be patient. Change is in progress.
Although the information has been made public, school divisions may be waiting for clarification through appropriate channels. Many offices are closed or have limited staff. Staff members may not have received the information—and it may be dispersed through school boards that meet once a month. You can expect updated information from your superintendent.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
This year, the law does not require assessments. I know many of you are pleased with your student’s test results and want the superintendent to know how successful you have been. However, sending in reports after the test waiver has been granted will set a bad precedent. Please don’t provide more information than the law requires.
If you have already tested or want to test for your own records, keep the results on file at home—the law does not require you to send the assessment results to the superintendent this year. A Notice of Intent (NOI) by August 15 is all that is required.
Additional guidance will be issued by Dr. Lane once the secretary of education approves the proposed waiver. Be assured, HEAV will stay in communication with the Department of Education and keep you updated as we work on your behalf.
Director of Homeschool Support
& Government Affairs